Taxi drivers

Brighton taxi drivers may have to accept cashless payments

TAXI drivers will be required to accept cashless payments from passengers if councilors vote in favor of a rule change this week.

The proposed new rule would reflect the growing use of card readers by taxi drivers and come into effect on Sunday May 1.

This is not the first time Brighton and Hove City Council has considered forcing taxi drivers to accept card payments as a condition of their licence.

But as more people use cards or phones to pay for goods and services, some in the taxi business have spoken out about passengers being turned away for not having cash .

The Brighton and Hove Cab Trade Association has asked the council to consult the trade again on the rules governing payments.

And the results reflect the association’s own survey of members, with the majority supporting the change, according to a report to the board’s licensing committee.

The report states: ‘Officers have been told that it is common for passengers to be turned away from the ranks for wanting to pay by card and having to try out several vehicles before they can find a driver willing to accept payment by card.

“This could be seen as a public safety issue, particularly for vulnerable passengers unable to get a taxi home and putting them at risk, especially at night.

“It is also alleged that refusing a payment card is a means of ‘choosing’ by refusing short journeys.

“Covid-19 has accelerated the use of card payments during the pandemic as a protective measure against illness and even feverish passengers are now carrying cash since this issue was last discussed by members.

“This does not appear to be an issue with private hire (pre-booked drivers) who use payment apps or are linked to operators who can accept card payments.”

Brighton and Hove taxi drivers have struggled during the pandemic

Some taxi drivers have objected to being forced to accept card or phone payments, particularly because some parts of the area have poor or no phone and wifi coverage.

Some said the proposed change would mean the taxi industry was treated differently to other cash-only businesses – and they should all be free to choose.

Other objections included the cost of transactions, with drivers fearing they would have to pay hundreds of pounds a year in fees.

Another driver said card payments could take three days to reach their bank account while costs such as fuel – like cash – were immediate.

Andrew Peters of the Brighton and Hove Cab Trade Association said: ‘It is very unfortunate that we still have a problem within (the) trade on the ranks where it is more often than not that drivers using certain Popular ranks transform people. away when potential customers are looking to pay by card.

“This is a common occurrence which annoys not only potential customers in the ranks but also other taxi drivers who provide card payment facility who may be further down the queue.

“A potential customer can try the first taxis in the station by seeking to pay by card, then

just give up and walk away.

The association conducted an online survey of drivers and said: “Of the 70 drivers who took part, 53 voted in favor of mandatory card payment as a condition of licensing and 12 voted against.”

The council’s consultation with commerce received 23 responses in favor of the change and nine against.

A decision is expected at the Licensing Committee meeting which is due to take place tomorrow at Hove Town Hall at 3pm. The meeting should be broadcast on the board’s website.